Leading Individuals

Labour and employment: foreign firms in Singapore

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance operates across the contentious and non-contentious employment spectrum, drawing expertise from the corporate and dispute resolution teams. Tapping into the firm’s excellent client connections and widespread geographic experience (notably in India, Indonesia and the rest of Southeast Asia), it has attracted a range of major engagements, particularly in employment investigations, regulatory investigations and employee terminations; this includes banking sector investigations into alleged misconduct and fraudulent trading. The team has also dealt with a series of employment matters connected to the transfer of asset management and financial services businesses to Singapore from Hong Kong. The firm’s Formal Law Alliance with Cavenagh Law LLP, provides it with the ability to run employment cases through the Singapore courts. Kabir Singh is the key partner on the contentious side, while Valerie Kong is noted for non-contentious expertise.

Practice head(s):

Valerie Kong; Kabir Singh

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is one of few international firms in Singapore to have a full-time employment law specialist at partner level. Fatim Jumabhoy leads a team, which has a genuine wide-ranging Asia Pacific emphasis with particularly high activity levels in Indonesia and China; Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines are also key markets. Much of the group’s recent work has centred on Covid-related matters, including remote working policies, regulatory compliance and health and safety obligations, restructurings and redundancies. The team has an excellent record in oil and gas, natural resources, technology, banking and non-bank financial institutions. Rebecca Lim impresses at the associate level.

Practice head(s):

Fatim Jumabhoy

Other key lawyers:

Rebecca Lim

Testimonials

‘HSF’s employment practice group is exceptional for two key reasons: 1) leadership and 2) breadth. Fatim Jumabhoy is an absolute star and has really evolved the regional practice into what I consider to be the very best in the region with strong talent across its many offices. Because of the breadth of HSF’s business in APAC, they are able to provide broad regional advice with attention to nuances specific to local markets. I am also very impressed by HSF’s commitment to Diversity & Inclusion including their willingness to advocate for civil rights. ’

‘Fatim Jumabohy is an absolute star and one of the very best lawyers I have ever worked with in APAC. She is practical, always responsive, thoughtful, tactical, and proactive. She is also very calm under pressure and really takes into account the needs of the business when delivering advice and work product. With all of the various HR-related issues brought on by COVID, I sleep better at night knowing that Fatim is always there to support us as a company across the region.’

‘Fatim Jumabhoy is excellent – she gives timely and commercially astute advice on issues throughout Asia.’

Linklaters

Linklaters is especially active in the financial services sector, frequently advising clients on pay cuts, retrenchments and disputes with employees and former employees. The Singapore team is also experienced in the technology and fintech sectors, including gig economy matters, along with growth in funds sector (including private equity) instructions. Covering both contentious and non-contentious issues, the group is led by the immensely experienced employment specialist Laure De Panafieu, who has overseen further growth in contentious and employee incentive engagements. Managing associate Chaiyee Oh is another key member of the team, as is Claire Matthews who is an experienced figure in employee incentives.

Practice head(s):

Laure de Panafieu

Other key lawyers:

Claire Matthews; Chaiyee Oh

Testimonials

‘We have engaged Linklaters to assist us with the drafting of an employee share option plan for our Singapore and India employees as well as potential consultants/advisors from the US. As it involves the consideration of tax rules for other jurisdictions such as India and US, Linklaters were able to reach out to their other contacts to provide a fast and seamless legal opinion on the tax implications in those jurisdictions.’

‘As we are a start-up company and it was our first time implementing an employee share option plan, Linklaters has demonstrated knowledge in the same area and were able to give good advice in this domain. They are also very detailed and ensured that the rules implemented in our plan do not contravene the requirements as stated in our shareholders’ agreement. ’

‘Linklaters employment team is experienced in supporting international companies in achieving their strategic goals across SEA, which have very challenging HR regulations.’

‘Laure de Panafieu is our contact partner and is a powerhouse. She has the ability to navigate many aspects of law ranging from M&A to employment law. Her knowledge of local law and practice is invaluable for us and has helped us on several occasions. It is a true pleasure to work with Laure and we feel very safe when our matters are being handled by her and her team.’

‘Laure de Panafieu – meticulous, attentive. Comfortable in advising within a SEA context.’

‘Chaiyee Oh has very high availability, technical knowledge and is able to provide pragmatic solutions in SEA countries.’

‘I have the pleasure of working with Claire Matthews closely for this engagement. She was very professional and knowledgeable in what she is doing.’

Key clients

Morgan Stanley

BlackRock

Brookfield

NatWest Markets

Verlinvest

Summa Equity

Olympus Capital

Dymon Asia

The Siam Commercial Bank Public Company

Bank of Montreal

Macquarie Capital

Microsoft

ByteDance / Tik Tok

XTX Markets

Ant Group

Revolut

Assa Abloy

AWAK Technologies

Ninja Van

PCCW

Intel Corporation

Deloitte

Wavecell

SWIFT

ANZ

MUFG Bank

BP

BRF SA

RGE Group

Bank of America

Navig8

ResMed

Lesaffre APAC

Sibelco

Jardine Matheson

Lombard International

Wood Mackenzie APAC

Seppure

Golar LNG

BBC Studios

Advent International

Work highlights

  • Advised The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited in relation to its defence against one of its senior traders bringing a defamation claim over controversial social media postings arising out of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Advised Intel Corporation on the employment aspects of the $9bn acquisition by SK Hynix of the Intel NAND memory and storage business.
  • Advised Seppure on various employment matters, and staff/consultants incentivisation arrangements.

Ashurst LLP

Ashurst LLP‘s Singapore office has a lengthy history in the labour and employment segment. Senior associate Karen Mitra is now leading the team, supported by colleagues around Asia Pacific, including global head of employment Stephen Woodbury  in Sydney. The Singapore team continues to play a pivotal role in regional transactions and advisory engagements, notably for blue-chip multinationals, particularly those headquartered in Asia Pacific. Much of the practice has recently centred on Covid-19 related restructurings and downsizing programmes.

Practice head(s):

Karen Mitra

Key clients

Apollo Global Management

Pico Quantitative Trading

Gain Capital

McLaren

IHS Markit

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group

ResMed

The Silanna Group

Mizuho Asia Partners

Westpac Banking Corporation

University of Sydney

Petroleum Geo-Services

Rio Tinto

Qantas

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow has an impressive mix of contentious and non-contentious work, drawing on the expertise of practitioners from across the firm. The firm has an excellent record in transactional and investigation-related employment matters. It represents a range of tech, financial services and other businesses. Kelvin Poa is a rounded practitioner with a fine record in employment and investment funds work, while Celeste Ang is a dispute resolution specialist with an extensive record in contentious employment matters. Former senior associate Clarence Ding has joined Simmons & Simmons.

Practice head(s):

Kelvin Poa; Celeste Ang

Other key lawyers:

Zhao Yang Ng

Testimonials

‘One of the benefits of working with B&M is having affiliates in most of the APAC countries we operate. This saves us a lot of effort not needing to connect with different firms in each of the countries, but get support from B&M Singapore office on works that require cross country coordination.’

‘I mainly work with Zhao Yang Ng and his team for Singapore matters. Zhao Yang is very competent in his area of practice and professional in his approach. He is able to understand the business challenges and able to connect the dot to the legal environment.’

 

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC

K&L Gates Straits Law LLC has achieved further growth in workforce restructuring exercises and the development of Covid protocols, notably in cross-border engagements throughout Southeast Asia. The firm’s Singapore model means that it is well placed to take contentious matters through the courts, thanks to its bench of high-quality litigators. The Singapore team represents a range of US and other foreign multinationals on their employment matters in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Christopher Tan is a corporate and employment specialist and leads the labour, employment and workplace safety team.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Tan

Key clients

Brightcove Inc.

Digitalplus GmbH

Electronic Arts Asia Pacific

EMQ Inc.

Flight Centre Travel Group

Hyundai Oil

Platinum Equity

Surecomp Asia Pacific

TripAdvisor Limited

UGL Engineering Pte Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised a NYSE-listed American entertainment company on additional requirements in the workplace in Singapore including COVID safe management measures in the workplace and work from home guidelines.
  • Advised an American multinational software company in relation to the regulatory compliance of the potential set up of a PRIDE diversity & inclusion community chapter in the Singapore office.
  • Advised a major American network media company in relation to a global retention agreement to be presented to international employees.

Squire Patton Boggs

Squire Patton Boggs has a broad geographic emphasis covering India, ASEAN and North Asia. It has a strong recent record in corporate restructuring and retrenchment initiatives, along with Covid-response programmes and diversity and inclusion projects. Julia Yeo is a genuine labour, employment and immigration specialist with strong credentials in Singapore and across Asia Pacific.

Practice head(s):

Julia Yeo

Key clients

Maersk Drilling

Bacardi

TATA Communications

Janus Henderson

Prudential

Collins Group

Victrex

Diebold

Sailpoint Technologies, Inc.

Molson Coors

Interplex

Sephora

N3 Group / Accenture

Norton LifeLock